Emerging from Los Angeles, Chelsea J is best described as a multi-talented entity: a gifted musician, actor and media producer, she boasts immense creativity, often declined through the various artistic medium she so proudly champions. One of her latest works takes the shape of a stunning music record, a charming album exploring RnB and Pop territories. Balancing over electronic influences, ‘Moon Spirit’ showcases Chelsea J’s evocative and soulful vocals, enriched by the nuanced yet fierce storytelling the project seems to enjoy.
Over seven tracks, the album transports the listener into a world made up of relationship troubles, self-empowerment anthem, and hopeful slices of goodness. In fact, it’s like taking a peak into Chelsea J’s life, with the American talent taking us on a journey into her deep consciousness.
Quite an eclectic record, the project seems to benefit from the kaleidoscopic cultural references that live in it: from trap-style minimalism to retro pop anthems, passing through soul-laced gems: there’s something for everyone. Intrigued by Chelsea J, we caught up with her to find out more about her artistry and future goals… Interview below!
Hey Chelsea J, how is it going? some of our readers might not be familiar with your project, how would you describe yourself, in a few words?
I would say I’m easy-going and down to earth, I love to laugh and make jokes to make my friends laugh. Maybe I’m a bit on the shy side, but I am a big workaholic. I feel good when I’m writing songs or performing because I struggle with being still or idle, I like to keep busy.
Your current work is the result of a long journey; What first drew you to making music?
As a baby, I would try and mouth what my mother sang to me and I’m sure it sounded like nonsense but I loved the way music felt. I started in church choir and as a young child, I remember loving how people could never be indifferent about music, they had to have an opinion whether they liked or disliked certain songs. I started my training in church choir and had classical voice lessons studying mainly Italian and German operas and musical theatre. When I started making my own music as a little girl, I just kept it all in journals and notebooks. Back then, I couldn’t play an instrument so the melody was in my head or sometimes I would have the melody and add lyrics later. I play guitar now, but I still work in that same flow of getting inspired by melody then lyrics, or lyrics first then the melody.
I released my first ever single in 2011 and I have been on a journey of writing and releasing singles and collaborating with other indie songwriters and producers to make more songs. I released my self-written EP Baby Girl in 2018, and that was my first cohesive project that kind of embodied my coming of age. The lead single ‘Stretch’ was featured on the CW channel on the show All-American. My first full-length album ‘Moon Spirit’, is a full circle moment of the ups and downs in my journey. In this business you hear a lot of ‘No’s’ and rejection is just part of the process. It’s good to be optimistic and come from a place of faith in your work and your art. You have to believe you make good music. Art is all open to interpretation anyways.
If you had the opportunity to pick any artists in the world for a collaboration, who would be your first choice? (and second choice, perhaps?)
My biggest vocal inspirations are probably Barbra Streisand and Beyoncé. I would love to write or sing with Beyoncé one day. I also have to add Taylor Swift who is a huge songwriting influence on me and I would love to work with her as well.
You recently released a majestic album, ‘Moon Spirit’. In it, we can admire the quality and range of your songwriting. We are impressed by how nuanced and catchy it all is – how long did it take you to put it together?
Thanks for the love on the writing of Moon Spirit that really means a lot! The process took about 6-7 months from hypothesizing it to it being released. I wrote these songs mostly at night in the wee hours and refined them for weeks before I was ready to hop into the studio. I had just lost my grandmother who I was very close to, and was not ready to make music. However, I met my producer and friend Quincy who came alongside me at the right time. I am very excited about the whole sphere of the music-making process including the details of metadata, designing my cover art for the album, picking the order of songs, and getting my samples cleared. The album is about relationships in all facets, like having to stand up for yourself, having peace with yourself in isolation, or struggling with fake friends.
What does ‘Moon Spirit’ mean to you, as a whole?
The album is about rising like a Phoenix after feeling isolated and alone. There may be someone going through what you went through, it may not be exactly to the letter; but their version may align with your own. People tend to feel like they are the only ones struggling, but knowing that others struggle helps people feel less alone. It took courage for me to say “Hey, I struggle!” I have issues with dating, mental health, and falling out with friends. The title track ‘Moon Spirit’ samples James Stewart’s dialogue from ‘Its a Wonderful Life’ and it poetically sums up how even in the dark times, life is still good. We all want to stand in the sun, but we have to be brave enough to sit with the moon to appreciate the light.
Do you feel more confident writing music alone, or within a team?
I tend to write alone but the experiences when I released songs as a collaboration have been fun! That’s something I would love to do more of in the future.
You are also a talented actor and producer – how do you experience this multi-artistry? Is it part of your personality?
I love to perform. I think that Acting has a musical quality to it, just because you are expressing a character that has their own internal melody, just with dialogue. I received my Bachelors in Acting for the stage and screen and enjoyed performing in musicals, plays, and short films in undergrad and post-grad life. I also earned my Masters in Science of Communications last year from Newhouse and I enjoyed studying media more behind the scenes as well. I took directing classes and directed a short film based on a script I wrote about the dangers of drunk driving called “Tipsy’s Not Sober”. I like to look at life through small details, not just big moments which is a big part of directing or producing. I think that doing more than one form of art just shows that you can wear many different hats because there are many different sides to us all.
What are the next steps for your project? Anything exciting on the horizon?
I am always writing songs and I believe Moon Spirit was just the beginning. I would love to do a live tour. I also want to utilize my love for music and film and produce my other script I’ve been developing. It’s more light-hearted, it’s a romantic comedy because, at the end of the day, I’m a hopeless romantic.